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Grief Tool Box

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Recommended Books

I Met Death

Books for Adults

Bearing the Unbearable

by Joanne Caccatori

When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death that leaves us shouting, “NO!” with every fiber of our body. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the nonbereaved, tell us it should.

Organized into fifty-two short chapters, Bearing the Unbearable is a companion for life’s most difficult times, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore—bereavement educator, researcher, Zen priest, and leading counselor in the field—accompanies us along the heartbreaking path of love, loss, and grief. Through moving stories of her encounters with grief over decades of supporting individuals, families, and communities—as well as her own experience with loss—Cacciatore opens a space to process, integrate, and deeply honor our grief.


The Wild Edge of Sorrow

by Francis Weller

Noted psychotherapist Francis Weller provides an essential guide for navigating the deep waters of sorrow and loss in this lyrical yet practical handbook for mastering the art of grieving. Describing how Western patterns of amnesia and anesthesia affect our capacity to cope with personal and collective sorrows, Weller reveals the new vitality we may encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss. Through moving personal stories, poetry, and insightful reflections he leads us into the central energy of sorrow, and to the profound healing and heightened communion with each other and our planet that reside alongside it.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow explains that grief has always been communal and illustrates how we need the healing touch of others, an atmosphere of compassion, and the comfort of ritual in order to fully metabolize our grief. Weller describes how we often hide our pain from the world, wrapping it in a secret mantle of shame. This causes sorrow to linger unexpressed in our bodies, weighing us down and pulling us into the territory of depression and death. We have come to fear grief and feel too alone to face an encounter with the powerful energies of sorrow. 








I Met Death on the Avenue Road Bus

by Samantha Albert

“Samantha Albert’s memoir glitters with joyful love, humour, and grace beyond measure. It is not just a delight to read, it is a literary gift.”
—Alison Wearing, bestselling author of Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter

“The last time I thought I was dying, I made pickles.”

So opens Samantha Albert’s powerful, tenderly humorous memoir of a life lived in the shadow of death.


Like most young couples, Sam and her husband had plans and dreams: fulfilling careers, a beautiful home, a baby or two, family camping trips. Everything was going according to plan until a single sentence overturned their world:

“I have your results back.”

Sam’s rare, life-threatening illness devastated both her body and her plans. Over the ensuing two decades, she managed to outlive dire prognoses again and again. But she also became a stunning embodiment of grace who chose to offer kindness in every gesture and exchange. To use her strength to make others laugh. To weave her love into a tapestry of beauty. And to make pickles.


I Met Death on the Avenue Road Bus is not a book about illness but rather an answer to the question so many people must face: How do we live the life we have rather than the one we hoped for?

How to Carry What Can't Be Fixed: A Journal for Grief

by Megan Devine

An illustrated journal for meeting grief with honesty and kindness ―honoring loss, rather than packing it away. Filled with unique, creative ways to open a dialogue with grief itself. “Being allowed to tell the truth about your grief is an incredibly powerful act,” she says. “This journal enables you to tell your whole story, without the need to tack on a happy ending where there isn’t one.”

Grief is a natural response to death and loss―it’s not an illness to be cured or a problem to be fixed. This workbook contains no clichés, timetables, or checklists of stages to get through; it won’t help you “move past” or put your loss behind you. Instead, you’ll find encouragement, self-care exercises, and daily tools.





Books for Children

Grandad’s Island

by Benji Davies

A thoughtful picture book guaranteed to spark discussion. Recommended for young families dealing with loss. With subtlety and grace, Benji Davies paints a poignant and ultimately uplifting picture of loss. At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places.

"This book is innovative and useful as a way to talk about the idea of loss—without ever referring to actual death. Parents and educators can use this to talk with a child about how it’s normal to be sad and miss loved ones...Cheerful, brightly colored illustrations make this a fine choice to use with the youngest of audiences. Since death isn’t directly specified, this title also works for when a child’s loved one is moving far away. An excellent vehicle to gently approach the topic of loss."

—School Library Journal. 

I Found a Dead Bird:

The Kids' Guide to the Cycle of Life

by Jan Thornhill 

This straightforward, ‘no holds barred’ approach to the subject will captivate children. Chock-full of color photographs, the well-designed book contains boxes with tidbits of information on a wide variety of topics. [This book] is essentially an encyclopedia of facts and interesting information relating to the subject of life and death…The book is interesting to leaf through and read, and the pictures will grab the readers’ attention.

Exploring fascinating aspects of life through an intelligent and thought-provoking text such as this can be helpful as kids process everyday experiences. Using photographs and boxes of text as transporters of information, Thornhill covers the territory: life and lifespans of life, from bacteria to humans; how things die; what happens after death, a topic that begins with what happens at the moment of death; and a section titled When People Die, which includes material about grief …By writing so cogently about life in all its forms, Thornhill has succeeded in making death less frightening.

…shows no fear in her approach to this very difficult subject. Her conversational writing style, her matter-of-fact tone and her own personal fascination with the cycle of life and death strips away myths, half-truths and fears children may have about death. Jan Thornhill comes to our rescue in this fact-packed, sensitively written book that tackles life’s big questions in an accessible and satisfying way. 

Image by Quino Al
Adorable Chick
Image by Wolfgang Hasselmann
Image by Giuseppe Famiani
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